Marlos (35 years old) is the mother of Nonna (4 years) and Elfie (6 months). She started cutting back five years ago and has been living with very few things ever since.
“I always had to buy something when I was shopping. Coming home without bags full wasn’t an option, even if I just bought a belt or mascara. New stuff gave me a kick; I can really enjoy clothes in my hand that I’ve never worn before: the tags are still attached and from Then you know you’ll be wearing it the next day.But the kick has always been short-lived.
“New things have given me a kick, but the kick has always been short-lived”
A week later, this piece of clothing was in the closet among all my other purchases and it didn’t make me “happy” anymore. “You are addicted to shopping,” my friend Job regularly said. I laughed, but I knew there was some truth in that. It was rather sad because I had to take my happiness out of the material.
Turn things around
Five years ago I went to therapy because I kept seeing myself in a negative way. I was also depressed. Shopping for me was a runaway, I bought it feeling sad. I didn’t have the easiest childhood, which I don’t want to think about too much. Let’s just say I grew up insecure. I miss love from my father.
In addition to therapy, she began to practice yoga intensively. This happened to me. I booked retreats and met people there who opened my eyes. We don’t need anything. At least, not as much as we buy it now. The fact that we are leaving such a huge footprint on the earth with our ridiculous way of consumption is starting to piss me off more and more.
“No more pressure on options, no bulging shelves – an overview!”
When I met someone who lived a simple lifestyle during the retreat, I knew right away: I want that, too. I changed course, ridding my head and my surroundings of all unnecessary stimuli. That same week, I completely cleaned out my closet and reduced it to some basics I can’t live without. It was as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders; No more stress to choose, no bulging shelves – an overview!
Job loved it, until she started applying it to the rest of the house. I wanted to get rid of everything we didn’t do anything with. I was just shocked by what was in the attic and in the shed. And from what I had stored in my kitchen cupboards, but never or hardly ever used. We had a lot of useless trash around the house. He had to go! I gave almost everything to friends, took it to a thrift store or sold it on Marktplaats.
My anger at the cleaning caused a great deal of discussion between myself and Job. He had two bikes in the shed. I think it can’t hurt. I thought it was an unnecessary possession and, moreover, someone could take pleasure in this extra bike. After a long grumble, he gave up and gave the bike to his brother.
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When I got pregnant with Nuna I became even more fanatical about it. Our child will grow up in a family where we care about the world. I wanted our child to be a good role model. I had printed out the birth announcement that we’d rather donate to charity than gifts. I think it’s ridiculous during motherhood to be burdened with clothes that only fit your baby for a short time and that you probably don’t like.
“It is ironic that during motherhood, you are burdened with clothes that fit your child only for a moment.”
However, I thought the horror was stuffed animals or those ugly plastic toys that your child doesn’t care about. Nonna’s room was almost completely empty, except for the bed and a closet with some clothes. I call it minimal. I thought my mother sterile. And Nonna grieves, because the child, according to my mother, needs toys.
Job also now realizes that what I’m doing isn’t crazy at all. We save a lot of money because of our lifestyle. Where I was able to spend hundreds of euros on clothes, we now have a savings account that many people in their 30s would envy. We’re increasingly talking about living in a smaller, more energy efficient way and then paying off a large portion of the mortgage.
Nonna has very few games. I have a sensory play bowl of rice, twigs, sand, and dried beans on the table for her; She could spend hours doing that – every once in a while I replace content. She also paints a lot and we’re always on the go. Nature offers a lot of games.
“Nouna has a sensory kindergarten with rice, twigs, sand and beans”
iPad is not allowed with us. Nothing with batteries though. I was with my sister recently and she totally overstimulated me by playing her twin. Everything seems to be making noise. You buy a lot through AliExpress or at Action; Things that break after a few uses. It’s a thorn in my side, but I don’t say anything about it.
I’m much happier now because I live minimalistically. It seems to give me space in my head to see what really matters in life. I don’t waste my time in crowded shops, I’m showing my kids a jungle or looking for shells on the beach. My friends are used to it now, but they also think I’m special. “As long as you don’t end up in a small house,” someone said last week. You should know that Job and I are talking about it more and more.”
This article appears on Kek Mama 10-2022.
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